Hello my fellow history lovers! Another warm Saturday morning is a nice start to the day. Our second heat wave is just around the corner as temps get back into the 90’s early next week. Drought conditions are showing up all around us with wilting trees, dry gardens, and lots of brown lawns occupying the landscapes.
I received a number of great comments from last week’s column, and a lot of guesses on my question: What does R.P.O. stand for? The correct answer is Railway Post Office. Mail that was processed on a train was marked with this distinctive cancellation as early as the 1840’s. If you were correct, good for you!
Some things always seem to go together: sticks and stones, bat and ball, beer and wine, bacon and eggs, you get the idea. One of my favorites is our then and now photo for a hot summer day, a place you could pull up your car, roll down your window, and get a cold drink with a wonderfully frothy head: Dog ‘n’ Suds!
The Dog ‘n’ Suds chain began in Illinois in 1953, the brainchild of Don Hamader and Jim Griggs, two music teachers at the University of Illinois. The chain quickly grew throughout the midwest region before finding its way to both coasts of the United States. In 1963, our own Dog ‘n’ Suds restaurant opened at the corner of Belmont and Washington Streets. It immediately became a go to place for great root beer and sandwiches. My own memory of that place is limited. We did not go very often, but I do remember my father driving all of us there for a treat now and then. Parking under the awning, we waited for someone to come out and take our order (maybe on roller skates?) and waited just a bit for our food to arrive. Out it came, on a special tray with brackets that allowed it to straddle a partially rolled down car window. We always enjoyed the ice cold root beer, a hamburger, and if I remember right, a delicious fish sandwich loaded with tartar sauce! Going there was truly a special event for our family.
Unfortunately, Dog ‘n’ Suds had a short run here. A look at the Easton Town Reports shows the issuing of Victualer’s Licenses. As I said above, the first license was granted in 1963. The last license, a special permit for Sunday operations, seems to be the one issued in 1971, and perhaps, 1972. I do not know the name of the people who owned the franchise.
The last root beer stand I remember in this area was a Henry’s Root Beer on Route 138 in Taunton, and I think that must have closed in the 1980’s. Dog ‘n’ Suds still exists in the midwest, with 20 locations in 7 states. If you are traveling through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and a few other states, you might get lucky enough to stop at one and enjoy the excellent root beer that made them so famous.
Below are a few photos for you. The first two are from the mid-1960’s, and are taken from an advertising postcard. In the first image, we are looking at Dog ‘n’ Suds from the west side of Washington Street, looking northeasterly across the intersection with Belmont Street. Recognize any of the cars?
The second image, from the card’s reverse, lists the food and drink items that were available – more of a selection than I remembered!
The third image is the location today. Once Dog ‘n’ Suds was out of business, a bank occupied this location for a number of years. That later gave way to the small plaza at the site today.
And last, but not least, enjoy a photo of one of those great Dog ‘n’ Suds mugs now in our collections. Sorry it is not full of root beer!
Until next week, happy sipping,
Anne Wooster Drury